This will come as a surprise to absolutely nobody, but North Korea’s presence at the 2018 Winter Olympics has been a consistent source of controversy.
When it was first unveiled that North Korea would be going to the Olympics in Pyeongchang, some U.S. officials suggested America should boycott the Winter Games.
North Korean controversies were hardly exclusive to off-the-field politics, however.
Of note, North Korean speedskater Kwang Bom Jong was caught seemingly trying to trip Japanese opponent Ryosuke Sakazume on Tuesday.
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) February 21, 2018
To his credit, Sakazume downplayed the tripping incident.
“I believe it was unintentional,” Sakazume told reporters. “His hand happened to be by my skate as he fell down.”
“I don’t know what was his intention,” Japan coach Jonathan Guilmette added. “It is really hard to judge what’s the intention. I don’t know if he tried to grab the skates or if he is just trying to hold onto something like a reflex — there are so many hands all over in our sport. That was a reflex thing more than trying to trip over someone else.”
Kwang was disqualified in a later race for pushing off Sakazume. One can be a coincidence, two begins to establish a pattern.
Somehow, North Korean controversies even spread to the stands.
In a separate incident that’s somehow simultaneously much funnier and much more terrifying, a North Korean cheerleader was caught on camera seemingly clapping for American figure skaters Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim.
Throughout the Olympics, the North Korean “army of beauties” have given exuberant applause for their own athletes, while remaining stone cold silent and expressionless for any other country’s competitors.
The cheerleaders followed the script with thunderous and cult-like applause for North Korean figure skaters Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik.
But as the Knierims were taking the ice, one dissident North Korean cheerleader seemed to forget the script as she clapped for them.
Her dear comrade sitting next to her nudged her, seemingly reminding her to stop.
On the one hand, there’s something darkly humorous about a North Korean breaking rank, even if only mistakenly.
On the other hand, there’s an all-too-real chance that she or her family could face grave consequences at the hands of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. He’s not exactly known for a sterling track record in human rights.
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